Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mourning becomes election

Such a great day in America! The greatest day to be an American!

For today we Americans, young and old, of every creed and origin, stood out on our American doorsteps, sucked in the crisp fall American air, scanned the landscape of American-made America and declared:

"No more effing campaign commercials!!" The shouts of uplifting relief rang from sea to shining sea.

Also, an election took place — far, far less important.

Now we enjoy a reprieve of almost six months, during which we won't be told how stupid we are by the people who want to represent us in our houses of legislature. Whatever "represent" and "legislature" even mean anymore. The same for "democracy."

Tomorrow where I live, one of two people will represent me in Congress. It'll either be Democratic incumbent Ami Bera, a doctor who unseated Republican Dan Lungen last election, or Republican Doug Ose, a land developer who served previously as a representative in a nearby California district.

I keep being told it's an important race to politics nationwide, though I'm not sure why, unless you count its expense, the costliest House race in the country. If so, here was a chance for the candidates to run on their records, to answer why I should vote for him.

But no.

It's the same old juvenile dreck that passes for a campaign anymore, salient parody if weren't so sad and real.

The Sacramento Bee's editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman spoke my wishes eloquently, and good on The Bee for giving him
nearly  a half page in the Sunday opinion section to say it. What an election this might have been had we
lived in that parallel universe.
It began with a tiny sliver of hope, as all campaigns do, with the happy music and the candidate serving you, his constituent. Physician Bera is treating patients, smiles all around. Ose is walking through warehouses with hardhatted warehouse supervisors, surveying progress happening in your district! Ose's commercial is strangely notable for his sporting three different hairstyles in a 30-second span.

They're going to Washington to fight for you, citizen, and won't answer to the special interests.

That phase goes fast, because name recognition is high in this region, or because positive advertising doesn't pay.

Soon the dreck appeared, dreck upon dreck. They drecked the halls with their folly, following the same cookie-cutter formula: Show the opponent in grainy black and white, in some still from a video screen grab that catches him with eyes half closed or mouth twisted in a chewing motion so he looks locked in an apoplectic fit.

Accuse the opponent of something that might technically be a lie, but nobody's going to read the fact-checking article in the next day's newspaper, and by that time the candidate has launched another half-baked broadside.

Then show the candidate in color with happy music, signaling the end of the ebola and economic and moral bankruptcy the opponent would bring.

The attack ads are the same in every district and precinct in the country. Republicans label their Democratic opponents as slavish devotees of President Obama and reps. Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer and lovers of Obamacare. Democrats, lacking a lame-duck president on which to hang blame, resort to images of airliners and glasses of champagne and stacks of money, and accuse opponents of jetsetting on the public dime.

Neither candidate blames bankers, careful not to bite feeding hands.

The commercials appeared back to back on TV last week, with such speed that Bera seemed to be attacking Bera as Ose throttled Ose.

It didn't need to be this way. I bet it would have been enough for Bera to be Bera. He was dean of admissions at the UC Davis Medical Center, and Sacramento County's chief medical officer. Impressive on its face.

As a real estate developer, Ose could have stood on his standing in the community.

I bet if they bucked the unfortunate trend and told us what they would do for us — with us — rather than lie about what the other guy wouldn't do for us — or would do to us — the election would be light years better.

Why they'd want to run, I have no idea.

Politics these days just seems like another job though, the way it goes now. One currency is the the vote, the ticket into office. The other currency is what comes from the constituency in power, the special interests that guide offices and campaigns and frame policy.

Candidates can act like we're stupid because we only count to get them in office. Once there, we are not needed until the next mid-term.

I wrote both candidates telling them I was ashamed by the way they handled their campaigns. I'm sure a staffer looked at the envelope through hard light, didn't see any money, and threw it away. Or the staffer opened it, and gathered other staffers around for a lighthearted moment from one of the babe-in-the-wood constituents, who thought he really mattered.

No matter. Fight the fear. You may still have time to vote.

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